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Changes under way at SPCA

by jmaloni
Wed, Feb 22nd 2012 09:00 pm

Activists reportedly turned away

A new interim director and a veterinarian have been appointed at the SPCA of Niagara, as the facility struggles to get back on track after charges of mismanagement and excessive euthanasia of animals.

Amy Lewis, supervisor of admissions and rescue at the SPCA Serving Erie County, has been named interim director of the Niagara facility on Lockport Road in Wheatfield.

Lewis was on the job at the Niagara facility this week.

Barbara Carr, director of the Erie County facility, was hired to do an independent investigation on Niagara's operations, and when that report was released, Niagara's board of directors fired its executive director and several members of the board have since announced plans to resign.

The Niagara board has also approved Dr. Peter J. Freyburger of Pendleton, president-elect of the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society, to be its interim veterinarian.

In addition, the Niagara board has announced it will follow a series of steps in order to facilitate the new board of directors election in May. A nominating committee, organized by the current board president, Bruno A. Scrufari III, will review the applications for candidacy.

According to a press release from the board, the majority of the nominating committee will be comprised of "persons of high standing in the community, with diverse viewpoints." After reviewing potential candidates, the committee will meet with the current board to provide their suggestions for a slate of 15 to 17 candidates for board positions.

SPCA membership will vote on the candidates at the May annual meeting. All members who are in good standing as of Feb. 29 will be eligible to vote in the May election.

The new board will be responsible for instituting the process utilized to select a permanent executive director.

Meanwhile, animal rights activists and those involved in the protests outside the SPCA of Niagara in January are reportedly getting the cold shoulder when they try to visit to volunteer their help.

Morgan Dunbar of Animal Allies of Western New York said a volunteer working the reception desk has hung up on her and refused to relay her messages when she asked to let Lewis know that "we're here to do anything we can to help."

Dunbar said she has paid her dues as a member of the SPCA of Niagara and went to the Lockport Road facility in a professional capacity. "The next thing I knew two sheriff's deputies were behind me," she said.

The person at the desk also called police to the facility Tuesday evening on another former protestor, not affiliated with Animal Allies. That woman, who has donated materials and offered to volunteer at the SPCA, was running late for an appointment on adopting a dog she had seen at the facility. The woman had called a board member who assured her it would be all right to enter late, Dunbar said.

Susan Mikula Campbell contributed to this report.

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